About the Capitol Museum

The California State Capitol is the seat of the California government, located in Sacramento, the capital of California. The Capitol building serves as both a museum and the state’s working seat of government.  The building houses the chambers of the California State Legislature, made up of the California State Assembly and the California State Senate, along with the office of the Governor of California.  Visitors to the Capitol can at once experience California’s rich history and witness the making of history through the modern lawmaking process.

The Capitol Museum is part of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and one of hundreds of State Parks in California. Check out the Visit page to plan your trip to the Museum!

The Museum

While the Capitol was still under reconstruction, the Legislature hired and trained both staff and volunteers to interpret the restoration of the Capitol. In the early 1990s, the Legislature contracted with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, also known as California State Parks, to perform these interpretative duties for the Capitol and to manage the museum and exhibits. State Parks absorbed the legislative staff and volunteers, and hired and trained new staff.

The Legislature, with the assistance of the State Parks, worked diligently to recreate the historic rooms to their appearance in the early twentieth century. An intensive research effort began to gather furnishings, artifacts, and artwork, as well as to create interpretive materials and set up ongoing curation for the historic materials and rooms.

Discover the architecture, history, and development of the California State Capitol from its initial formation 150 years ago to the modern day.

Museum Educational and Tour Program

The Department of Parks and Recreation took over the Capitol tour program from the Legislature in the early 1990s. State Parks’ mission statement is “to provide for the health, inspiration, and education of the people of California.”

The California State Capitol Museum has developed a full tour and educational program, including eight public tours a day, school tours, special tours for the Legislators, and tours of Capitol Park. State Parks’ goal to educate and inspire visitors has reached far beyond traditional tours to include newspapers, mass media, and television, as well as the Holiday Music Program and the PORTS outreach program, which allows students in the classroom to learn about the Capitol via a live media feed.

Volunteer at the Museum

The Capitol Museum’s volunteers offer additional educational opportunities including living history programs in period clothing, reenactment of historic events, and the annual Admission Day event, among others. Our dedicated volunteers run the gift shop, fund museum projects, and give freely of their time to make the museum a fun place to visit.

Part of Capitol Parks’ mandate is to maintain and protect historic rooms, including the Secretary of State’s office, the 1906 State Treasury, the 1933 State Treasury, and the Governor’s anteroom, main office, and private office. These rooms illustrate legislative historic offices in the early twentieth century. Walk around and stop by these rooms during your visit! Other historic rooms hold rotating museum exhibits as another means of educating and inspiring Capitol visitors.

Holiday Music Program

Musicians playing holiday music during Decembers Holiday Music Program

In December, to set a festive stage and spread holiday cheer, beautiful vintage decorations create a lovely backdrop for a variety of diverse and amazing live holiday musical performances in the Capitol Rotunda.

This special holiday experience is made possible by the State Capitol Museum and California State Parks in association with the California State Legislature Joint Rules Committee, the Governor’s Office, and the Department of General Services who have worked collaboratively to preserve holiday traditions inside the Capitol.

Events and Gathering Permits

Events on the Capitol grounds, such as weddings, large gatherings, rallies, and special events, require a permit. The Department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is responsible for issuing the permits. There is no cost for obtaining a permit and permits will be issued on a first come, first serve basis. The CHP does not provide any equipment for the events. Processing permits generally takes three to five business days, but may take up to 10 business days.

If you or your organization want to submit an application, check the permit calendar, view planned events, see a map of the Capitol grounds, or see the rules of the State Capitol grounds, go to capitolpermits.chp.ca.gov.

Chairs out front of the capitol